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Technological Options for Power Generation

The demand for electricity is expected to double from 1990 to 2020. This will require 4000 GW of new capacity to be constructed worldwide, both as additions and replacements. Technical progress has made new conventional power plants more efficient and environment friendly than existing ones, and they can be built quicker and cheaper. Fossil fuels already form the basis for two thirds of all electricity and their importance will continue to grow, both as gasfired combined cycle and as coal-fired steam cycle. The technical choice depends on a wide array of considerations, including financial engineering. In liberalised electricity markets with global sourcing the emphasis is on minimum costs and cash-flow. Independent project developers currently fund 30% of all new generating capacity investments and the share is growing. The expanding role of fossil fuels runs counter to policies to reduce the emission of greenhouse gases. To reverse the trend would require strong support for renewables and acceptance of nuclear power.

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Energy Specializations: Electricity – Generation Technologies; Electricity – R&D and Emerging Technologies; Electricity – Policy and Regulation

JEL Codes: Q42: Alternative Energy Sources, Q41: Energy: Demand and Supply; Prices, Q35: Hydrocarbon Resources, Q54: Climate; Natural Disasters and Their Management; Global Warming, Q53: Air Pollution; Water Pollution; Noise; Hazardous Waste; Solid Waste; Recycling

Keywords: Electricity technology, electricity demand, electricity generation, energy policy, Fossil Fuels, Nuclear, Renewables

DOI: 10.5547/ISSN0195-6574-EJ-Vol19-No2-4

Published in Volume19, Number 2 of the bi-monthly journal of the IAEE's Energy Economics Education Foundation.


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